Friday, April 11, 2014


A few weeks ago my friend asked me if I would share my story at her birthday party. She explained she was inviting women in her life who have impacted her and she wanted a few of us to share how God impacted us. She was having the party at a local coffee shop and I envisioned a small group of us sitting at the table...visiting, drinking coffee and just hanging out. When I arrived to the party, I saw this:

Wait. What?!?! Also, what you can't see in this image are the 40 chairs sitting in a circular shape surrounding this stage. 40 chairs filled with people I really didn't know and then it was time to share my story. So, I thought I'd post what I wrote for the occasion and celebrate Nola's 15 month birthday today. Enjoy.

"Hello. My name is Audrey and I’m a control freak. I always knew I had control issues, but it wasn’t until last night after our life group that I realized where those stemmed from. One of the most important things for kids is stability. Kids thrive on a schedule – knowing when they will get up and get dressed for school, knowing who will pick them up, knowing what time dinner will be and when they will go to bed after baths and homework. The environment I grew up in was quite the opposite. There were a lot of uncertainties and the one thing I could control was myself. I could count on me. So, I controlled what I could and held on tightly to that power. I became extremely independent and pretty self-sufficient. And as I grew older, I prided myself on being able to take care of me in spite of everything I had been through. And I know God used my desire to control every situation to break me down and show me He was in control all along. That power does not and did not ever belong to me.  

I knew what infertility was. I knew its name and saw it in my sister and best friend’s life. I knew it existed and that it was sad and bothersome. I knew it. I was aware. I saw it change her life and the people around her. I saw it from a distance. I knew what infertility was.

But, I didn’t really know it. I didn’t realize that I would become intimately familiar with infertility. I didn’t realize how close we would become…the two of us. Me, with my young and pretty healthy self. And infertility with her ugliness, her pain and her downright ability to suck the life out of a person (quite literally, actually, but figuratively too).

My husband and I always knew we wanted kids. Two, to be exact. A boy first, and then a girl would be great. But, as long as they were healthy, we didn’t really care. And we weren’t just saying that. Aren’t we nice? So, we waited until we decided we were ready and then we started trying. I’d been on birth control for many years, so we were thrilled when we got pregnant right away after trying. Everything was going well and then we went in for our 8 week appointment to find no heartbeat and no explanation why. Two pregnancies and two miscarriages later, I found myself losing control.

Then, came all the technical talk. You don’t have enough follicles. That’s weird.
They aren’t big enough. That’s not good.
You have cysts on your ovaries. That will make things difficult.
You could remove the fibroids through surgery, but it’s dangerous.
Your periods are irregular. That isn’t good.
Unexplained infertility. Unexplained anything is hard for someone with control issues.

When you are infertile, EVERYONE around you is pregnant or has kids. Everyone. And everyone is asking you when you might start a family. And all you are is the empty shell of a woman who longs for that beyond what anyone can understand. You want a big belly, you want screaming kiddos, you want to figure it all out and fix whatever part of you is broken. But, you can’t. You realize you can’t do it on your own. So, you start looking for places where you can count on someone else to fix you.

Sometimes this part gets dangerous and unhealthy. But, if you are smart, you turn to God. And you realize that He is the only one that can help you through infertility or any difficult situation. God knows the desires of your heart and He will fulfill those according to His plan. I can sit here and say that because I know it to be true, but I’m not above saying that it hasn’t always been easy for me to believe that myself.

This was the most painful thing we experienced in our marriage, but it brought us closer together and closer to God. It made me a stronger person and gave me a testimony that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Looking back, I can say that I know that God wasn’t punishing me. I know He was teaching me. And I know that His timing is perfect, even when it didn’t seem like it. Remember not to judge God’s goodness in your life on a snapshot. Our understanding of time is not the same as God’s.

I thought I could control everything. I thought that if I worked hard enough, I would get what I was longing for and it would all work out. He reminded me that I’m nothing without him. And my inability to control this situation broke me. It forced me to rely on someone other than myself.

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” – Jeremiah 31:13

I saw infertility. I thought I knew it. But, until you experience it yourself, you can’t possibly know."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11, 2014

Dearest Nola, 

Happy 1 year! Sweet girl, we did it! We started this journey a year ago today, both knowing very little about who we were in our new roles. 

You - a tiny human trying to figure out your schedule, who you could count on to take care of you, when you should sleep, what life was going to be like, etc. 

Me - a woman trying to find my way, figuring out how to take care of said tiny person, how to function on no sleep, realizing how life was going to be so different, etc.

A few years ago, I was pretty sure this day would never come. A day when I could celebrate my own baby girl's 12 month birthday. A day when I could truly thank God for giving me this blessing that I don't know how I even deserved it. So, thank you God for this miracle. I never knew I could have a beautiful, healthy baby and here you are celebrating your first birthday. 

You are so full of love and life that other people want to be around you all the time. Your personality shines through and you light up the room when you enter. You are loud, active and keep us on our toes at all times. You are spunky, tough, stubborn, rotten, sweet, smart, funny, sassy and all together pretty perfect. I know I've been spoiled with such a good baby and I'm grateful for that. 

I want to thank you for your beautiful smile and the fact that you know just the right time to use it. I truly think you are the most amazing and pretty little girl I've ever seen. 

Being your mom has been more than I could ever dreamed or imagined. I truly had no idea what it would be like. I didn't know I would love you this much, that it would be this hard...this rewarding, this life-changing, this special. You are more than I thought you could be. And you've made me more than I thought I could be. 

We made it. We've figured it out together. So, here's to 1 year in the books. I know I will blink and you'll be 18, so I'm doing my best to take it all in and appreciate every moment I have.

Nola, thank you for being you. My wishes for your future go beyond what I can type in words and I'm so very glad to be a part of it. All of it. I love you to the moon and back. You have no idea. 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11, 2013

Dear little Nola, 

Happy 11 month birthday! I am already getting emotional thinking about you turning 1 year old next month. I must say we've had such an incredible journey thus far and time really does fly when you're having fun. 

This has been a busy month. We celebrated Thanksgiving at the house and you enjoyed some of the yummy food yourself. You've also celebrated your independence in feeding yourself the baby food pouches. It's quite funny watching you eat it because once you can't get any more food out, you instantly throw it down and start screaming. Such a predictable and funny little character, you are...

We have certainly established the fact that you hate socks, shoes, hats, gloves or really any accessories. Actually, if we can't get you dressed in about .2 seconds, you are already irritated. I think it's because you just want to be on the move. You get bored easily and you're on to the next thing. Sometimes things like diapers, clothes and stuff just slow you down and keep you from your exploring. Who has time for that? 

Big news happened this month - you started walking! At this point, you're great at standing up by yourself and taking steps. It's so cute to watch you pop up in the middle of the floor, get your bearings and just go. You're up to about 10 steps at a time now, but you are faster at crawling, so that's still the go-to if you are really determined to get somewhere. 

You were not a fan of the snow, but I'm hoping that changes when you get older. Daddy really wants to take you snowboarding in a few years. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you will have to wear shoes and gloves for that as well. 

When you don't get your way or something isn't going right, you sometimes throw yourself on the floor kicking and screaming. I'm very concerned this is happening before you even turn one. Please tell me you're just getting your tantrums over with now and you'll completely skip that phase at age 2-3. 

In all seriousness, you are the light of my life. I feel so blessed to be your mom and can't imagine what our lives were like before you were here. You make me so proud and I love you more than I could express. I hope you always know that. Thanks for being a little ball of personality!

I can't believe how big you look here

Happy girl

This face immediately followed the smiling photo directly above this one

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013

Dear Nola Mae,

Happy 10 months! You have reached double digits and your first birthday is right around the corner. It's so much fun watching you grow up, learn new things and become your own person. You are little miss independent. You want to do things the way you want to, when you want to and how you want to ... and no one can tell you any differently. It's pretty funny to watch your little sassy personality shine through. You are a silly little girl - always making your dad and I laugh. 

You are so close to walking, but still not sure about it yet. You still love bath time and playing with toys. Though, your favorite things to play with are things that aren't for babies. You live for danger and exploration. I'm excited to see where that takes you in life. 

You hate when we take something from you (which is why you're holding a comb in your photos below - it wasn't worth the tears for the photos). Stubborn already - oh boy.

You've recently started going through the separation anxiety/attachment issues. There are times when you only want me and no one else will do. This isn't very fun when I have a lot of work to do around the house and you're screaming your head off. But, I imagine there might come a day when you don't want me near you, so I should probably just enjoy it while it lasts. 

Everyday is an adventure with you ... everyday is something new to look forward to and it really is such a blessing to be your mom. We're figuring it all out and I'm enjoying the journey. I do try to enjoy the little moments we share and soak it all in. These are memories I never want to forget. 

Thanks for being my sweet girl. I love you to the moon and back. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 11, 2013

Dear Nola, 

Happy 9 month birthday pretty girl. Today also happens to be your aunt Starr's birthday and your pawpaw Cecil's birthday, so it's a special day. 

This month, there were a few things that happened that forced me to be painfully aware of just how precious our time is. I won't go into detail here, but I do think it's important to recognize and acknowledge that. Your dad and I have had many talks about setting our priorities and doing our best to stick to them. There aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done, so I'm trying to not feel guilty about that and instead spend quality time as a family. What matters most is being together, making memories and soaking it all in. I know that every second counts and I have a feeling my friends would tell me that is ever so true, after their experiences this month. 

I love so many things about you and your personality is definitely one of them. You have some spunk for sure. You throw fits when you don't get your way and the smallest things can set you off. It's funny now, but I'm sure I won't always think so. 

You now have two teeth and I think more are well on their way. I love when you look at me and smile with those two bottom teeth showing. You are always looking for something to do ... always active. You get around really fast and you're still figuring everything out, so that's led to some head bumps and bruises this month. You are testing the limits of standing on your own without holding onto anything and you are really wanting to walk on your own. You have found the stairs and you think it's funny to climb all the way up as fast as you can. It gets more fun and exciting every day (also a little scary at times).

I am so proud to be your mom. I love you baby Nola.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013

Dear Nola, 

You can not be 8 months old already. It's bittersweet because of course I want you to grow up healthy and strong, but I also want you to stay little for just a little longer. 8 months seems so much older and I can't believe how quickly time is passing by. I guess that will be a reoccurring theme of our lives from here on out. 

It seems as if you've done a lot this month. You've gone from barely sitting up on your own to crawling, exploring, standing up and trying new foods. You're quite advanced and adventurous, which gives your mom a small heart attack almost daily. Gone are the days where I can sit you on the bed and get ready for work in the mornings. You get bored quickly and are on the move before I know it (as seen in the photo series below). 

Though you have an abundance of toys to play with, you gravitate toward the coffee table with hard wood edges and the fireplace made of brick. Daddy is worried you'll date a dangerous guy on a motorcycle one day. I say please don't. 

You did get your first tooth this month and that was very exciting. It's a sharp little thing on your bottom gums, just left of center. You did pretty well with that - only one night where you fought sleep. You really are such a good baby. I thank God every day for you (and also that you like to sleep at night).

We had the opportunity to have a wonderful weekend getaway at Big Cedar in Missouri. Dell and I usually take at least one trip a year and you've pretty much consumed 2013 for us. So, this was a last minute trip with just the three of us and it was fabulous. We went swimming, played mini golf and shuffleboard, cooked in our cabin, ate a delicious brunch, napped, went shopping, watched fireworks and floated in the lazy river. I wish I had a picture of this because you were in your own little turtle floaty and just held your head up like you owned the place. It was pretty cute and I look forward to more family trips in the future. 

Thank you for another month of memories and love. You are such a special little girl and we love you so much. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11, 2013

Happy 7 months little Nola!

It really seems like the past month has flown by, even more so than the usual quickness of time elapsing. You are full of personality and still make the best faces. You make dad and I laugh all the time. This month we've started to notice even more of your personality and I think you are going to have a little sass in ya (which can be good if used correctly).

You are just about to crawl – you’ve almost got the hang of it, but you get so frustrated that you can’t make your legs and arms do what you want that you throw a small fit. It’s pretty cute, though I don’t think that’s your goal.

You’ve tried some new fun foods this month and you’ve mastered the art of sitting up on your own.

You had your first full night away from us and stayed with Mimi. We all enjoyed it, but of course we missed you.

You still love being outdoors and being active. If you are bored with what is going on, you have no problem letting us know. 

I'm still having a tough time figuring out what to do with your hair. The top is so cute and curly, but the back where you lay on your head is frizzy and funky. Though, it doesn't really matter because you're adorable no matter what. 

Thanks for being such a sweet and fun baby. We love you to the moon and back.